Young­sters show their met­tle

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - JOSEPH ROMANOS

Watch­ing Kane Wil­liamson and Corey An­der­son play­ing cricket for New Zealand this sum­mer, I’ve been re­minded of a trip I made to Palmer­ston North with Welling­ton Col­lege head­mas­ter Roger Moses in 2007.

We went to watch a day’s play in the Gil­lette Cup, the na­tional sec­ondary schools tour­na­ment.

When we ar­rived at Fitzher­bert Park, Wil­liamson was batting on one pitch for Tau­ranga Boys against Welling­ton Col­lege and on the other, An­der­son was batting for Christchurch Boys against Wan­ganui Col­le­giate.

Wil­liamson, who made two cen­turies that week, bat­ted beau­ti­fully for 70 the day I watched. He was very much the player we see to­day – diminu­tive, el­e­gant, sen­si­ble. He scored briskly with­out ever ap­pear­ing to hurry.

At 70 he tried to leg glide a ball and ap­par­ently missed. The Welling­ton Col­lege play­ers ap­pealed for caught be­hind, but got no joy from the um­pire.

How­ever, Wil­liamson tucked his bat un­der his arm and walked off, a ges­ture that spoke to his good sports­man­ship and ma­tu­rity.

Over the other side, An­der­son looked like a man play­ing with boys.

He was much big­ger than ev­ery­one else, though he was younger than most of them, and kept straight driv­ing the ball across the road or pulling it into the sur­round­ing trees. It was spec­tac­u­lar stuff.

There were some fine play­ers on show at that Gil­lette tour­na­ment, among them Ge­orge Worker, Harry Boam (un­til he was with­drawn from the tour­na­ment to rep­re­sent the Welling­ton Fire­birds) and Nick Beard.

But Wil­liamson and An­der­son were eye-catch­ing.

Wil­liamson, hav­ing just turned 17, was named player of the tour­na­ment.

An­der­son was only 15 when he was named joint player of the tour­na­ment the pre­vi­ous year, with Tim Southee.

It has been fas­ci­nat­ing watch­ing Wil­liamson and An­der­son pro­ceed through their ca­reers.

Wil­liamson could be­come one of our all-time greats. He has plenty of abil­ity, plays for his team and is grad­u­ally build­ing his game.

For ex­am­ple, this sea­son he has in­creased the tempo of his batting – he did, af­ter all, score five suc­ces­sive one- day half- cen­turies against In­dia.

He will surely be a long-term New Zealand team cap­tain.

An­der­son is more spec­tac­u­lar, though not as con­sis­tent.

The century he scored

in Queen­stown against the West Indies – the fastest ever in one­day in­ter­na­tional cricket – was sim­ply breath­tak­ing.

He also has the handy habit of pick­ing up im­por­tant wick­ets with his left-arm pace bowl­ing.

Al­most overnight, An­der­son has es­tab­lished an in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion, as was re­vealed at last week’s IPL auc­tion.

John Wright’s Mum­bai In­di­ans bought him for $866,000, which is handy money for a few weeks’ work. An­der­son’s sale price out­stripped Bren­don McCul­lum ($627,000) Ross Tay­lor ($390,000) and Southee ($230,000).

Whether he’s quite that good yet is de­bat­able. What is un­de­ni­able is the ex­cite­ment he brings to cricket.

De­spite the scratchy sec­ond test against In­dia at the Basin Re­serve, New Zealand have en­joyed a mem­o­rable home sum­mer, maybe their best in years.

There were lots of in­di­vid­ual he­roes dur­ing the sum­mer – McCul­lum, Tay­lor, Trent Boult, Neil Wag­ner, Mitchell McCle­naghan, Martin Gup­till, Jesse Ry­der, Matt Henry and Southee among them – but for me, the ad­vances made by Wil­liamson and An­der­son were the most en­cour­ag­ing.

Those two are go­ing to bring New Zealand cricket fans plenty of joy over the next decade.

Photo: GETTY

Tal­ented duo: Kane Wil­liamson, left, and Corey An­der­son cel­e­brate a big mo­ment dur­ing the one-day se­ries against In­dia last month.

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